Many of us train in vain, but not Fiona Foxon. The corporate athlete is driven in her sporting pursuits to help those who are less fortunate.
Proving her point, Foxon is fighting in the Vanda White Collar Boxing match in the name of charity. The event has raised more than US$1.3 million for Cambodia's Children's Surgical Centre since 2008. The charity provides rehabilitation surgery to the country's children and trains local doctors. The event's benevolent bent drove Foxon to get involved four months ago.
"When the alarm goes off at 6am to train, one of the first things that comes to my mind is: 'These kids have nothing, get your butt out of bed, the least you can do is train,'" says the vice-president of marketing and business development for Tink Labs, a Hong Kong-based start-up developing technology for the hospitality industry.
She's been training up to 11 times a week for four months, and has taken a number of blows in preparation for the amateur fight.
"It's a little ironic to get your face bashed in for a charity that works in rehabilitation surgery, but at the end of the day, it's been about reminding myself not to take anything for granted; being able-bodied is a real gift," she says.
Foxon has always been a sportswoman, and she represented Hong Kong in women's rugby for three years. But the Singaporean-British athlete confesses that boxing has pushed her to the limit.
"Everything only came together in the last few weeks, and I still feel like I have two left feet in the ring. I have a newfound respect for professional fighters," she says.
Foxon admits she has always been driven by altruistic aims. She moved to Hong Kong seven years ago to set up Ventures in Development, a non-profit incubator of social enterprises promoting rural entrepreneurship in developing China.
After hanging up her rugby boots in 2012, Foxon continued to combine her interests by taking up triathlon and working with More Than Sport, a global charity established by professional triathlete Chris Lieto that utilises sport as a platform to raise funds for local charities around the world.
"Giving back and doing more isn't so much of a choice, it's a way of life. I don't believe in handouts; you have to help people help themselves. Charity work gives you humility and keeps you grounded," Foxon says.
Where do you get your energy from?
Other people. I love being and working in a team. You could say that there is a definite correlation between my sporting background and my ability to lead teams in my professional career. It's been a real challenge for me going from a team sport where you share everything - the highs and the lows - to an individual pursuit like boxing. Although I have a great team of trainers and other fighters around me, at the end of the day it's just you, in the ring, by yourself.
What's the main thing you have learned about boxing?
It's an incredibly technical sport. You can learn all the combos and the moves, but it's useless if you don't see the openings and the opportunities; it's about constantly moving and thinking one step ahead of your opponent. To succeed you have to be strategic and not just rely on fitness or brute strength. Much like life, you have to play to your strengths, build your game plan and execute.
How important is health and fitness in your life?
It's an absolute priority. Family is first of course, but health is second, especially in a city like Hong Kong where you can get swept up in the busyness of things. Fitness has to be an intrinsic part of your life otherwise it takes a back seat. For me, exercise has to be in the morning or I find my day gets away from me - the alarm goes off at 6am.
How will you prepare for the fight on Saturday?
By surrounding myself with awesome people. My mum is coming from Singapore, my brother will be there, as will my boyfriend Pete, and lots of good friends. I'll stay off my feet and relax and enjoy it. I think a lot of times you can forget to enjoy yourself in such a competitive environment, but it's for the Children's Surgical Centre and all for fun at the end of the day.
Best advice you've ever received?
Don't ever underestimate the importance of quiet time, rest and re-energising. In my 20s I used to live by the adage "you can sleep when you're dead". But now I'm in my 30s, I'm learning it's OK to go to bed at 10pm and not flog myself all the time. Sometimes you just need to rest.
How important is winning to you?
You don't go in there to lose, let's put it that way. Winning is important, but you've got to enjoy the ride, because at the end of the day what are you doing it for? If you lose, you dust yourself off, accept it gracefully and move on. Life moves on. That's the power of sport. It teaches you to bounce back and gives you the perspective you need to enjoy the experience and the journey.